There’s been talk of a reboot of the 1994 to 2000 television series Party of Five for the past few months, but now it’s really happening and it will be airing on the Freeform channel. However, anyone expecting it to be any sort of continuation of the Scott Wolf, Matthew Fox and Neve Campbell original is going to be disappointed, as this is going to be focusing on a very different family with a distinctly different problem.
The concept of the original show is that the five Salinger siblings are forced to fend for themselves in the aftermath of their parents dying in a car accident due to a drunk driver. The new version, created, like the original, by Amy Lippman and Chris Keyser, transforms this into an immigration story as the Acosta siblings must forge out a life for themselves when their parents are abruptly deported to Mexico.
Explained Amy at the recent TCA Winter Press Tour session for the series, “Chris and I had lots of opportunities over the years to sort of revisit the story. I think we waited until there was a good reason to do it. As we began to see what the political climate of the world is these days, and we began to see stories like this on the front page of every newspaper, we began to realize that what we had sort of imagined, which was a family of orphans 25 years ago, had sort of transmogrified into families of kids who are living without their parents in a very real way.
“I know we’re sort of in the climate of reboots,” she continued, “but it wasn’t our intention to sort of capitalize on that, but to actually look at what was going on in the news and say, this is a story that leaves the Party of Five characters in a similar kind of situation, but it has the advantage of two things: One is, it’s real. It’s happening every day. And the other is that when they did the original Party of Five, those dead parents stayed dead for six years, and the fact of that never changed. One of the things that sort of excites us about doing the show now is that the parents are a factor in it. They are not present, but they are dealing with issues of how do we try to parent our kids from a distance? How do the kids deal with social services? How is their footprint in the community sort of changed by this? So I think it’s our intention to make it different, and yet at the same time, there are moments almost kind of like Easter eggs. There is a scene in the pilot that was a scene in the original Party of Five pilot 25 years ago that has changed slightly, but I think there is enough for our fans of long ago to see echoes of the original series.”
Elaborating on their approach, Chris detailed, “On the one hand, Party of Five was a show about grief and this show is about grief in a slightly different way, because what is lost is not gone forever. It’s somewhere just outside your reach. The difference between those two things, I think, is interesting. The other thing that Party of Five was about is talking about what it means for a group of kids who, at the point in their lives ought to be thinking about themselves, end up having to think about each other and the way families work. It’s different because we’re 25 years later, and the world they face is much different from the world the Salingers faced. It’s different because they come from a different culture, and their approach how to do those things may vary. In many ways, families are the same across all of those cultures, but we’ll explore the way those things are different as well.
“For us, and I think Amy hinted at this, what’s most interesting is that the relationship between these kids and the tragedy that happens to them is present and ongoing, and changing. So Emilio is different from Charlie. Charlie had to deal with taking over his father’s life in a world in which he was a part; he had the responsibility more or less secure in knowing who he was. Emilio is a DACA kid. He doesn’t know if he’s going to stay or not. And the fact of his being a DACA kid, and the fact that the world may change tomorrow for him, is integrally part of the story. The political decision this country makes has everything to do with what happens to these kids. As that changes, their attitude to this country, and what their responsibility is, and the implications of what happens to them, change over time and the show is going to change over time. It does not stay in one place.”
The new cast consists of Brandon Larracuente (who viewers may recognize from 13 Reasons Why) as Emilio, Emily Tosta as Lucia, Niko Guardado as Beto and Elle Paris Legaspi as Valentina. There’s a baby as well.
Freeform has ordered 12 episodes for the first season.